The French saying "Petit à petit l'oiseau fait son nid"

Get prepared to discover everything you want to know about the inspirational French proverb “Petit à petit l’oiseau fait son nid”.

Including a full guide of what it mean and how you can use it in a casual conversation with an audio example. Along with the useful stuff we added like slow pronunciation audio, synonyms, dialogue example and more!

In case you are interested, you will find more of these proverbs explained on this page and the ultimate list of all our French words pages on this page. Wishing you a happy learning!

Table of Contents

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English translation

Pronunciation example

Slow pronunciation

Normal pronunciation

What does it mean exactly?


“Petit à petit” literally means “Little by little” and “L’oiseau fait son nid” literally means “The bird builds his nest“.

Let’s imagine a bird carrying twigs, brushwoods and other little pieces of wood all day to build his nest. No matter how long he takes to complete his task, no matter how many back and forth are required, there is no doubt he will succeed.

Because birds and humans can’t achieve “big” things, they can only achieve many little things that bring them closer to their goals.

This proverb teach us that with patience and perseverance: everything is possible, no matter how hard the task.

How to use it

We can use these wise words as a reminder of being patient and never give up on our dreams, but also to inspire and motivate people.

For example, if a friend thinks of quitting a commitment/project, afraid of the hard work to come, reminds him/her that “Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid“. That just like the bird, with patience and dedication, he/she will make it.


  • Rome n’a pas été construite en une seule journée. (“Rome wasn’t built in one day“)
  • Goutte à goutte, l’eau creuse la pierre. (“Drop by drop, the water digs the stone“)
  • Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières. (“The little streams make the big rivers“)

Everyday life dialogue example

Audio dialogue by French natives

Dialogue audio

Dialogue script

” Les travaux n’avancent pas vite “
” The works are not progressing quickly “
” Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid. “
” Little by little, the bird builds its nest. “
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